The Service Learning Program at Ursuline College in the Counseling and Art Therapy graduate school, was created in 2012 to help students increase awareness of global issues, seek justice and action, sow loving kindness, and explore the world outside of the privilege of living in the United States. These experiences are geared towards preparing students to be more culturally sensitive and competent professionals.
Over the last 4 years, faculty, alumni, and students have travelled to El Salvador, Ecuador, Zimbabwe, and South Dakota. In the short span of 4 years, 60 graduate/undergraduate students, 4 faculty, and 9 alumni have attended a service learning trip. The Ursuline College Service Learning Program group have lovingly and passionately worked with approximately 700 children from 3 different countries, and Lakota Sioux in South Dakota. By fundraising, art and flea market sales, and donations, the group has raised just over $6000 that has been donated to help these specific community groups. A program such as this successfully meets the values, voice and vision of Ursuline College and makes great and exemplar contributions in furthering the mission and strengths of the college by service in action and seeking social justice.
The following is a list of our various service learning experiences that we have undertaken thus far:
El Salvador, Spring 2013
In April 2013, 12 graduate students, 1 alumnus and 2 faculty members went to El Salvador to work under the guidance of Sr. Rose (an Ursuline sister who was ministering in El Salvador) to provide care in the town of Chiltiupan with the children and families in the Santa Domingo Parish and community. The Ursuline College group provided attention, as well as art therapy and counseling to 150 school aged children with various needs and painted 5 large murals to decorate the Santa Domingo School. In addition, the Ursuline College group brought and donated from fundraising efforts, $1300 of school and art materials to the Santa Domingo School, money for uniforms, and gave each child a small gift.
For more on their trip, read this blog.
Ecuador, Spring 2014
In March 2014, the students embarked on the second service learning trip to Quito, Ecuador, this time with 19 students, 1 alumnus, and 1 professor/faculty. United Planet, a nonprofit volunteer group, partnered with Ursuline to provide a school, orphanage and day care opportunity which needed some care. The Ursuline College group provided counseling and expressive arts therapies to over 200 school aged children who were poverty stricken, some from abusive homes and in dire situations. The service learning group also had the privilege of helping approximately 20 street children of Quito, Ecuador at a local street kid’s orphanage. Lastly, the students supported a day care owner, named Rosa, who was taking care of 18 children under the age of 5 who had nowhere else to go during the day while their parents worked long hours. From fundraising efforts, the Ursuline College group donated $500 of school and art materials and presents for the children. After returning home, students raised and sent $1000 to help rebuild the day care that had been in abominable condition (dirt floor, no running water), and purchased soccer jerseys and balls for the street kids orphanage and shelter.
For an in-depth look at what the trip was like, check out these blogs.
Africa, Fall 2014/Spring 2015
In December 2014-January 2015, 10 Graduate students, 3 alumni, and 2 professors, embarked on a 14 day service learning trip over winter break to Cape Town, South Africa (3 days) and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (10 days). After a brief and eye opening trip to Cape Town, where the group visited Robben Island where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned for over 25 years, the students learned of the apartheid wars, and the terrible distrust and racial divides that cost so many their lives.
The service learning group then traveled 6 hours by airplane into Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, to meet up with alumna Rebekah Chilcote who was working at the “Youth with a Mission” base and “Peniel Center Orphanage” to begin service work with AIDS/HIV orphans, as well as other traumatized children who were abandoned or left by parents. The Ursuline College group provided expressive arts therapies and counseling in 2 different church camps, 1 with 95 poor, orphaned or neglected children, and the other with about 150 children most of which had active AIDS or HIV. In addition the group lived with the 18 children at the orphanage, sharing meals, living spaces, and camaraderie. The service learning group fundraised prior to the trip and were able to bring $1500 of school and art materials to the orphanage. In addition, $350 was raised to donate to the feeding program for starving children (this money will feed about 250 children for several months). After returning from the trip, the students were able to raise more funds to send 2 cell phones and a camera via a missionary to Bulawayo, and wire transferred another $300 to help with school fees.
For more about this trip, read this article.
South Dakota, June 2015
In June 2015, the Ursuline College group travelled with 18 students, 3 professors, 4 alumni and 1 community member to Eagle Butte, South Dakota to work within the Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux Native American Reservation. The group worked on the reservation in the Cheyenne River Youth Project, a nonprofit organization that provides care, meals, and services to more than 250 children. While there, the students worked with 100 children in an afternoon expressive arts program that was created. In the expressive arts program, children enjoyed, recreation, counseling and art therapy, theater, as well as one to one time with the student group. The children on the reservation were very poor, came from difficult home situations, and had various learning and emotional problems. The group was able to fundraise $500 dollars in art and school supplies, as well as bring gifts for all the children. After returning from this trip, the Ursuline College group was able to stay in touch with leaders of the Cheyenne Youth Project and have been planning an annual trip each year to be of more help to this community.
For details about this trip, read this blog.
Upcoming trips include:
Nepal May 2016- Providing counseling and art therapy services to school children and women prisoners.
Peru August 2017- Helping women and children who have been victims of domestic violence.
Hungary March 2018- Supporting impoverished Roma Gypsy children living on the outskirts of Ozd, a Hungarian border town.